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Pioneers of the Blues Revival

Steve Cushing

Publication Year: 2014

Steve Cushing, the award-winning host of the nationally syndicated public radio staple Blues before Sunrise, has spent over thirty years observing and participating in the Chicago blues scene. In Pioneers of the Blues Revival, he interviews many of the prominent white researchers and enthusiasts whose advocacy spearheaded the blues' crossover into the mainstream starting in the 1960s.Opinionated and territorial, the American, British, and French interviewees provide fascinating first-hand accounts of the era and movement. Experts including Paul Oliver, Gayle Dean Wardlow, Sam Charters, Ray Flerledge, Paul Oliver, Richard K. Spottswood, and Pete Whelan chronicle in their own words their obsessive early efforts at cataloging blues recordings and retrace lifetimes spent loving, finding, collecting, reissuing, and producing records. They and nearly a dozen others recount relationships with blues musicians, including the discoveries of prewar bluesmen Mississippi John Hurt, Son House, Skip James, and Bukka White, and the reintroduction of these musicians and many others to new generations of listeners. The accounts describe fieldwork in the South, renew lively debates, and tell of rehearsals in Muddy Waters's basement and randomly finding Lightning Hopkins's guitar in a pawn shop.Blues scholar Barry Lee Pearson provides a critical and historical framework for the interviews in an introduction.

Published by: University of Illinois Press

Series: Music in American Life

Title Page, Frontispiece, Copyright

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pp. i-vi


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

...Special thanks to the interviewees who sat patiently and shared generously. Thanks also to the friends who made their many photos available in support of the stories. And thanks as well to the staff at the University of Illinois Press, including Laurie Matheson...

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Barry Lee Pearson

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pp. xi-xxii

...second half of the twentieth century and the first decade of the twenty-first century, comes primarily from Steve Cushing’s long-running radio show, Blues Before Sunrise. An experienced interviewer, Cushing...

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Steve Cushing

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pp. xxiii-xxiv

...recent years it has become stylish to disparage their efforts and the era, but I regard their efforts as selfless, honorable, and positive. And talking with the seventeen interviewees found in this manuscript has served only to reinforce that opinion...

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Paul Oliver

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pp. 1-21

...as it was in the East End of London and Central London. We did have incendiary bombs fall on our house, but we all put them out, and other than that we had no serious problems. Later in the war—from that time on, actually— I was working in harvest camps and...

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Sam Charters

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pp. 22-48

...I went into the army in the spring of 1951 and spent two years in Alaska. I got out of the army two years later and spent six months in northern Alaska, then to San Francisco for six months and back to New Orleans. I was twenty-four when I returned to...

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Pete Whelan

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pp. 49-68

...Russian count who was a cab driver, and her parents dragged her away from Paris and brought her back to Lock Haven, Pennsylvania. My parents met at a Florida resort. It was sort of a golf resort for the well-to-do...

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Dick Waterman

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pp. 69-84

...have a very bad memory for names and faces, but if I ever called you, I remember your phone number or your area code or your zip code or something like that. I have a good memory for numbers. After I got out of school, I was a newspaperman in Connecticut, in Miami, and then I moved back to the Cambridge...

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Gayle Dean Wardlow

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pp. 85-120

...My daddy worked as an oil man; he worked in the oil fields, and we were moving around so much, Steve. My granddaddy lived down in Louisiana, you know, so my mom built a house down there next to my granddaddy. We lived in a little...

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Robert M. W. Dixon

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pp. 121-134

...had Bessie Smith. Mick Mulligan had a man named George Melly who sang with him. So I originally got interested in jazz. I didn’t know very much about the blues. In the late 1940s and early 1950s before there were many LPs, microgroove...

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Bob Koester

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pp. 135-165

...it off the air locally. There was an old wind-up phonograph—this is one of those wind-up phonograph stories— but right after the war Dad got a Philco, one of these terrible Philco radio/phono combos where you open a door...

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John Broven

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pp. 166-178

...local electrical utility company called Seeboard. He was in charge of transformer substations throughout East Sussex and part of Kent. My mother was a post office worker. She had a little bit of a sabbatical when she was raising my sister and myself, but she started in the post office in the 1930s, which at the...

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Mike Rowe

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pp. 179-187

...People talk about your earliest memories, and they say the earliest kids can remember is four or five years old. Well, in my case it was age two and a bit, because you look out the door and you see the house across the street going up in flames—it was such a vivid image—and it stays with you. I remember...

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Ray Flerlage

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pp. 188-206

...magazine, one of my best outlets for photographs until it folded. Everything that I was selling to folded, you know, during that period. But in any event, we won some prizes from—I forget—one of the local printers. And design prizes for a cover in which some of...

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Jim O'Neal

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pp. 207-226

...Rolling Stones and the British groups came along, I started buying LPs and reading the liner notes about who wrote the songs and tried to trace them back. That’s when I realized that most of the rock ’n’ roll music that I liked was blues-based—people like Muddy Waters, Jimmy Reed, and Howling Wolf. By that time I was in Chicago in college....

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Richard K. Spottswood

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pp. 227-241

...fastened on to. There was a big legend on the old Columbia 78 rpm disc album by Bix Beiderbecke. A banner on the cover said, “Jazz as it should be played.” Previous to that I thought of myself as really not liking jazz much, but I sure liked Bix’s music, so it told me to keep listening for more so-called hot jazz from the 1920s. That was very...

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Jacques Demetre

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pp. 242-252

...Paris. Until the war I lived in a Russian atmosphere, always speaking Russian at home. I went to school and learned to speak French, which I spoke outside my home—with my friends at school, on the streets, and in the shops—but as soon as I got home we spoke Russian. Also, before the war I wasn’t interested...

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Phil Spiro

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pp. 253-269

...town clock, an important undertaking at that time and place. His parents sent my father to the US to avoid his being conscripted into the tsar’s army. When he landed in New York City in 1911 at age sixteen, he was already a skilled watchmaker...

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Chris Barber

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pp. 270-291

...communist, but in the UK in the 1930s this meant you were the only people in the country who realized what was wrong with the Nazis. We could see war was coming. We just didn’t know how soon our government would wake up, see we had...

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David Evans

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pp. 292-322

...possibility. The schools remained all white, but there was an awareness that things were likely to change. It was an interesting experience for me. But then we came back north again to Massachusetts and lived in North Andover, and I got into a prep school as a day student at Phillips Academy. I was totally out of music...

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Chris Strachwitz

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pp. 323-344

...coming in, thank God. Then we heard “This area’s going to go under the East Bloc.” An uncle from Braunschweig came and got us, and we lived near Braunschweig for two years. Two of our great aunts managed to get us out of Germany via Sweden. My mother’s mother was an American. She died very young, and her two sisters were very keen about...

List of Interviews

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pp. 345-346


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pp. 347-368

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About the Authors, Series Page, Production Notes

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pp. 369-376

...Steve Cushing has hosted Blues Before Sunrise for over thirty years. He is the author of Blues Before Sunrise: The Radio Interviews...

E-ISBN-13: 9780252096204
E-ISBN-10: 0252096207
Print-ISBN-13: 9780252038334

Page Count: 424
Publication Year: 2014

Series Title: Music in American Life

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